Feb 6, 2020
Fantastic Four (2015), a recap (part 3 of 7)
Welcome back to our very first patron-only recap! The full article is available to those who pledge at least $1/month on the Agony Booth’s Patreon page.
Previously: Reed Richards got to attend/work for the Baxter Institute, a internationally renowned think tank founded on the inventions of high school students. Reed was tasked with building a teleportation machine, along with three other young antisocial malcontents. Together, the four of them might become something fantastic. Or, stupidly blunder into giving themselves superpowers. One of those.
More exciting welding action follows, which leads us into a montage of the Quantum Gate teleportation machine being designed and constructed, with all the clichéd dialogue-free footage you’d expect: The gang writes on whiteboards, argues with each other, dines on Chinese takeout, stares at circuit boards, and peers through microscopes.
In a mid-montage interlude, Sue tells Johnny that it’s nice having him around. He puts up a front like he’s only here to get his car back, but deep down you can tell he’s glad to be around his dad and sister again too. I guess the idea is that Johnny was walking a troubled path or something that was keeping him away from his family, but other than that one illegal street race there’s no evidence of it.
More montage-ing happens, and we get time-lapse footage of the machine being assembled. Back at the Grimm Salvage yard, Ben gets a text from Reed proudly showing off the machine. Actually, Reed’s just showing off a scale model of the machine, even though the full-size version already exists. The text message reads, “Couldn’t have done it without you buddy!” Even though he technically did do it without him.
Then Reed and Sue have a conversation where they acknowledge the big white elephant in the room: Sue explains she was born in Kosovo, and got adopted by Dr. Storm. Reed wonders why she doesn’t have an accent, so Sue jokingly puts on a Russian and/or Eastern European accent, and Reed laughs, and that’s the end of it. It never gets brought up again.
It’s possible they were going for some sort of pro-adoption message here, as in showing that a story can feature a character who’s adopted and it can be no big deal and just another character detail alongside race or gender or nationality. And I can agree with that, but couldn’t they have given us a little bit more than a couple of tossed-off lines and a bad joke accent? I mean, adopted from Kosovo? There was a war going on there in the late ‘90s, and Sue probably would have been an infant then, so surely there must be some backstory here.
And surely there’s something interesting to be made of a white girl being raised by a black family, but let’s face it: they weren’t going for any kind of pro-adoption message, or pro-racial harmony message. The director wanted Michael B. Jordan to play Johnny and the studio wanted Kate Mara to play Sue, and it looks like no one wanted to put forth more than the bare minimum of effort into explaining how they could be brother and sister.